Student Dental Insurance

When it comes health and medicine, anything that you do in your younger years usually sets the bar for the latter years. In fact, dental hygiene and health has been directly related to a number of major diseases and health problems. Unfortunately, many students forgo dental evaluations and check-ups to save a few dollars. Little known to most, student dental insurance is highly affordable, and offers a number of great benefits.

There are two major divisions in the dental health market: university sponsored dental insurance programs and private student dental insurance. University-sponsored plans are usually administered by private companies, however, such plans usually offer different benefits than a similarly priced plan sold directly to the customer by a private company.

University-Sponsored Dental Plans
University-sponsored dental plans are inexpensive, and usually allow for choice among a number dentist offices within a reasonable distance from the university. Students usually have a choice between a PPO and an HMO.

University dental plans are often weighted toward coverage for less expensive, routine dental care. The idea is that by covering regular and routine visits at 100% coverage, students will be more likely to see a dentist, receive timely checkups, and prevent more costly dental work in the future. 100% coverage is almost always extended for cleanings and office visits, twice annually. Also, depending on the plan, a PPO may allow for up to 80% coverage for “tier 1” needs including filings and very basic oral surgery.

Coverage for very costly dental work including extractions and other catastrophic needs is usually limited to only partial coverage. Also, many student plans come with annual maximums ranging from $500-2000, meaning that insurance companies are protected from almost all large-cost liability.

One major upside, though, is the relatively low price of student dental plans. Most plans can be had for less than $20 per month and can be paid annually, monthly, or included in each semester's tuition bill. These costs, if billed through the university, can usually be covered with financial aid, grants, and/or scholarships.

Private Student Dental Insurance
The private student dental insurance market is growing as more students are going back to school without insurance, or leaving a job that currently houses their insurance in order to focus on studies. These private dental insurance companies offer students a wide range of dental services at a very low monthly cost.

Most commonly private dental insurance companies offer full coverage for routine visits, and up to 90% coverage for first tier needs like fillings or simple surgery. Some plans offer very limited coverage (usually less than half the cost) for second tier, expensive dental work. Depending on your annual maximum, coverage for second tier operations may be far less than what is stated in percentage terms.

Generally speaking, private student dental insurance is more expensive than university-sponsored insurance because of the methodology and business behind the operation. For one, student dental insurance companies spend far more per customer in marketing and advertising, and require far more paperwork and history before approval. By contrast, university-sponsored dental insurance operates mostly on a group basis, where every person is accepted as long as they are a student or faculty member of the particular institution.

Keep in mind, however, that not all university-sponsored plans are less expensive, especially when the coverage levels are compared. Often, universities offer only one plan, and have few options for additional coverage. For students with larger budgets who would like additional coverage, private insurance is usually a better choice.

Use the Parents' Coverage When Possible
In almost every case, young adult students would see maximum benefit by using their parents' insurance for as long as possible. Coverage for family health and dental insurance purchased through an employer does not rise or fall in price with the addition or subtraction of one family member. Instead, a family with twelve children would pay the same monthly premium as another family with only one child, assuming both purchase the same family plan through the same group.

Health and dental insurance companies usually afford coverage until 22 years of age. However, depending on the viability of health care legislation passed in 2010, these requirements will rise by law to 26 years of age as long as the student is considered "full-time."

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